Pfizer and BioNTech say COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes mutation found in new U.K., South Africa variants

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Pfizer Inc. and German partner BioNTech SE said Friday an in vitro study found that their COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes the two new highly infectious variants that have emerged in the U.K. and South Africa. The results were published on the preprint service bioRxiv and have not yet been peer-reviewed. “Though these two rapidly spreading viruses are different, they share the N501Y mutation, which is located in the receptor binding site of the spike protein and results in the virus’s spike protein binding more tightly to its receptor.,” the companies said in a joint statement. “It has been shown to infect mice more efficiently.” The trial found the sera of 20 participants in the Phase 3 trials neutralized the virus with the mutation as well as they neutralized the virus without the mutation, said the statement. “Pfizer, BioNTech, and UTMB are encouraged by these early, in vitro study findings,” said the statement, although further research is needed. The vaccine has been granted emergency use authorization in the U.S. and is currently being deployed. BioNTech shares jumped 6% premarket on the news, while Pfizer was up 0.6%. BioNTech shares have gained 116% in the last 12 months, while the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF has gained 58% and the S&P 500 has gained 17.5%.
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